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Little Brown Bustard Heterotetrax humilis
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species is listed as Near Threatened because it is suspected to have experienced a moderately rapid population decline owing to the secondary effects of armed conflict and civil unrest in its range. Further data on the population size and trends may qualify the species for listing in a higher threat category.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Taxonomic note
Heterotetrax humilis (del Hoyo and Collar 2014) was previously placed in the genus Eupodotis.

Eupodotis humilis (Blyth, 1856)

Distribution and population
Eupodotis humilis is known only from north and west-central Somalia and adjacent areas of eastern Ethiopia, which it apparently colonised in the 1970s (Urban et al. 1986). In Somalia, it has been considered "common south to 7°N" and scarcer beyond to 4°N (Ash and Miskell 1983). In Ethiopia, it was not uncommon in the Lower Wabi Shebelle and Warder region from 1969 to 1976 (EWNHS 1996), but was not recorded during field surveys in this region during 1995-1996.

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is described as fairly common in Ogaden, eastern Ethiopia and common in northern Somalia (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in decline owing to human disturbance (from the presence of refugee camps and armed forces) and ongoing habitat destruction.

The species favours light, open thornbush and occasionally also adjacent tussocky plains where it feeds on insects, small reptiles and seeds (Urban et al. 1986). The breeding season extends from April to August (Ash and Miskell 1988). The nest is placed on sandy soil, usually without a scrape (Collar 1996). Normally two eggs are laid, but a clutch-size of three has been recorded (Collar 1996).

Droughts and war in the heart of the species's range during the 1970s and 1980s may have disrupted breeding and caused a sharp population decline. The continuing presence of refugee camps on both sides of the Ethiopia-Somalia border, and of an armed population, is likely to have caused at least local extinctions through the combined effects of hunting, cultivation, firewood collection and overgrazing.

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. Although this species occurs in a number of protected areas (e.g. Las Anod-Taleh-El Chebet, Gaan Libaax, El Hammure; Robertson (in prep.), it cannot be considered secure. Conservation Actions Proposed
Research and monitoring of populations are urgently required (Collar 1996). Monitor rates of habitat loss and degradation within its range. Improve management of protected areas within the species's range. Increase the area of suitable habitat that has protected status.

Ash, J. S.; Miskell, J. E. 1983. Birds of Somalia: their habitat, status and distribution. Scopus.

Ash, J. S.; Miskell, J. E. 1988. Observations on birds in Somalia in 1978--1982, together with a bibliography of recent literature. Scopus 11(3/4): 57-78.

Collar, N. J. 1996. Otididae (Bustards). In: del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. (ed.), Handbook of the birds of the world, pp. 240-273. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1996. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

EWNHS. 1996. Important Bird Areas of Ethiopia: a first inventory. Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society, Addis Ababa.

Robertson, B.A., Hutto, R.L. and Fontaine, J.J. 2010. Evaluating food availability and nest predation risk as sources of bias in aural bird surveys. Journal of Field Ornithology 81(4): 420-429.

Urban, E. K.; Fry, C. H.; Keith, S. 1986. The birds of Africa vol. II. Academic Press, London.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
O'Brien, A., Robertson, P., Symes, A., Taylor, J.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Taylor, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Heterotetrax humilis. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Otididae (Bustards)
Species name author (Blyth, 1856)
Population size Unknown mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 362,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- Projected distributions under climate change